Readers' Submissions

Put a New Frame on That Picture



Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok



Being imperfect, I seem to burn out on places, and sometimes people. These last ten years free from worrying about that business and taxes, etc. have really been somehow like childhood with so much free time and opportunity to experience things away from the work world I knew.

In recent months I've wandered back and forth between Thailand the Philippines and find I really don't want to pick one or the other, both are ok I think. I see things I like more in one for a while then I get a little fickle and swing toward the other, I have been in Thailand so long I wonder how much I can disconnect, yet, I love my times in the Philippines for the English. Lower prices, and more affectionate ladies. They are sure different, yet a bit the same in that I am empowered in ways I am certainly not in America where I write this from tonight.

I was inspired to write something after having eaten dinner in a Thai place here in Henderson (immediately east and south of Las Vegas). Every year I go to the place whenever I feel like paying three times as much as I would at an S&P in Thailand for some Thai food. Of course, I go to see the waitresses from Thailand on student visas. Tonight I was pleasantly surprised to see two of the waitresses who were really stunners. So, I ordered up some gang-keeow-wan-gai. But, it was super green curry chicken and the girls spoke perfect American. Visions of sugar plums danced in my head. It was weird how they have that same sort of distant friendliness, however one wants to interpret it is up to them, but I see it as a good looking girl knowing what you are thinking and trying to be polite to the farang. And gauging her options.

They were Bangkok girls, and while conversing in my native tongue I found them to seem intelligent and quite nice. The difference between those two and attractive young American girls' methods of regarding me told me a lot about why I stay in Asia. I don't mean to say they were promiscuous and that I had hopes of bedding them (well, maybe), they certainly didn't come on to me, but they did not treat me like granddad. I don't feel like granddad, and it is alienating to me when young women treat me as such. Sure, I am old enough to be that, but if you are not yet in that elderly category, when you get older providing you have the good luck to do so, it is not fun bring placed in that category. I just don't feel like playing the old guy.
Reframing my picture is something I've done four years in a row coming to Canada (Vancouver) one year, to the North-eastern US another, and the past two mostly in Las Vegas. My excuse is to come and use the VA hospital which is a nice new facility. But it is really to check my own gyroscope, if you will.

To me it seems emotions run high a bit in South-East Asia and I like that, but need to step back out of the forest from time to time so I can see those trees.

I am not a native in either of the countries I have condos in and enjoy freedoms I cannot here. And this brings me to my point. People are not really that different everywhere, but they have different cultures and all of us are products of our own culture. As a 21-year-old American soldier being taught by the US military the immersion system of learning languages, I spoke German and lived with Germans in the late 1960s. It was such an eye opener I realized that all of my thinking was culturally induced. In other words, I saw the world through American eyes. Not a bad place to be born in, but I wanted a more worldly view. So I tried hard to discard the qualities I found unattractive in my culture and grabbed qualities from theirs I admired. It was fun.

In fact it still is fun to wander between cultures.

We all know how fast Thais can fall in to a deep sleep. I like to think it is because they are not worrying about yesterday or tomorrow. Now there is something appealing to pretty much every American friend I know.

In the first few years it was so relaxed in Thailand from the change of thinking patterns it was intoxicating. Some say all cultures where there was never snow to worry about in the winter have lazier people who may be happier. I don't know. But, as a 56 year old just retiring person, it felt heavenly living down in Phuket. Early on I started reading Stickman and met Dana in, I think, 2004.

I enjoy myself in all places nowadays, probably because I am at an age where I feel it is a waste of time to blame, generalize in a negative way about others, and just be disappointed. Whether or not we are happy is totally up to us. But if I am thinking badly of others that seems to bring me down, so I think it is best to just live and let live.

Three more weeks here, and Bangkok Airport and that Camry taxi driver who always picks me up will zoom me back to Pattaya on that highway that was not always so lovely as it is now. The girls at the airport will be lovely as ever, as will the girls a few weeks later in the Philippines.

So, for now, I will enjoy high-speed Internet, SIRI, and driving a snazzy car around these big spacious roads to go get tests and checks I would rather not do in Asia. I have had two surgeries in Thailand and that is not to say Bumrungrad or Bangkok Pattaya were bad, here it's just quite close to free for US military veterans. And catching the first month of American pro football is something I really enjoy here as it is three games a day on Sunday and a good pig out. Thanks to the Asian networks I can watch at least one game every Sunday in Asia.

Hope my wives are all being taken care of.


Stickman says:

I smiled at your mention of American football. For me, just walking up to my old rugby club on a Saturday afternoon knowing that there will be a game being played and that I can wander along the touch lines, watch the match and have a chance of bumping in to old school mates while taking photos is one of the things I miss most about home. Unlike you, I have never been able to commit to Asia totally.